[Content Note: Violence; eliminationism; queerphobia; racism.]
Today is Iain's and my 14th anniversary. The day we were married at a courthouse, there was one friend in attendance, to serve as our witness: Our friend N, Lottie's dad, who is one of the only lasting friends I made at university. We met at the GLBA student alliance, as it was called then, which explicitly invited allies to join. I was there as an ally. He is gay. We became fast friends and remain so, easily being able to pass an entire day just sitting and talking about everything under the sun.
At the time Iain and I were married, we were living with N. We'd just come back from Scotland to make our home in the States, and he opened his home to us, so we'd have a place to stay while we figured out next steps.
As I was thinking about that day, in the shadow of the mass shooting at Pulse, I thought about N, and all my queer friends who have been an integral part of my life.
My oldest friend, about whom I've written many times in this space, is a gay Latino. Ant and I met on the first day of kindergarten and we are still friends 37 years later. My favorite cousin, to whom I am closest in age and with whom I share a stronger family resemblance than even with my own sister, is a lesbian. Most of my friends from high school, with whom I spent long hours making dorky home movies in my parents' basement or stretched out on my bed, listening to Smiths albums, have almost all come out in the intervening years. Many of the closest friendships and collaborations I've formed over 12 years of blogging are with people who identify as LGB and/or T.
My best friend is a gay man. We have made each other laugh, we have talked about the worst things that have happened to us, we have annoyed the shit out of each other, we have gotten tattooed together, we have watched terrible television via text, we have survived watching Heaven Is for Real together in his lovely Baltimore flat, we have sent each other obnoxious gifts through the mail, we have eaten the best macaroni and cheese on the planet together, we have talked about movies and music and television shows and politics and culture and food and cats and dogs and love and sex and aging and family and surviving.
He loves to gang up on me with my husband to give me all kinds of shit, and it makes me cry with laughter. And it makes me feel very known and loved. I try very hard to make him feel the same way.
Since I was five years old, and probably before, there hasn't been a major event in my life—not a birthday party, a graduation, a holiday celebration, a wedding, an anniversary, an illness, an achievement, any joy or sadness at all—that has not included queer people I love, even if it was long before they came out.
There hasn't been a single day at all.
The truth is, the queer women and men in my life are my family. Often in ways that my family of origin hasn't been, couldn't be.
When I was a weird, fat, ugly, awkward, feminist kid, members of the queer community accepted me, and loved me, and let me love them back. And now that I am a weird, fat, ugly, awkward, feminist adult, a 40-something, tattooed, childfree woman who is often regarded with suspicion and disdain from straight people in my cohort, nothing has changed.
I've forged bonds, personal and professional, with many queer folks because of shared aspects of our complex identities: Other feminists, fellow fatties, people who have mental illness, residents of "flyover" states, other writers, other activists.
I've never become friends with someone because they were queer, but it isn't irrelevant, either. We are all errant puzzle pieces looking for knobs and grooves that fit with our own—and for reasons, some more evident than others, mine have been more likely to fit with queer peoples', and theirs with mine.
I can't imagine how different, how much lesser, my life would be without my lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and genderqueer friends. It's not hyperbole when I say I'm honestly not sure if I would have survived.
That this community has been the target of the most deadly mass shooting in the nation's history is breaking my heart into a thousand pieces.
I don't mean to suggest that there is not intolerance within the queer community, nor do I mean to canonize people in a way that is just as dehumanizing as demonizing them. The LGBTx community is incredibly diverse, and one part of its vast diversity are people who extend warm acceptance, despite the risk and zero obligation to do so, to people outside their community, who don't really fit in anywhere else.
I only mean to say this: My life would be shit without my queer friends. That is an absolute fact.
I am indescribably angry and profoundly sad that in a space where queer people were meant to feel safe, where they thought they were safe, they were killed by a terrible person armed with weapons no human should have. I am angry and sad that this happened in a queer club, on Latino night, during Pride Month. I am angry and sad for the people who were killed, for the people who loved them, and for all the people across the country and around the globe who feel the reverberating chill of this heinous act.
I wish, desperately, that I had more to offer right now than my anger and grief. I want you to know I would take up space in solidarity with you, even if so many of you had not taken up space in solidarity with me, in the most intimate ways, but I want to honor the fact that you have. I see you.
I am so sorry.
To my personal friends who are members of the community that was attacked today: I love you. You mean the world to me. I am holding you close.